UK authorities are holding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in conditions worse than for accused terrorists and are preventing him from preparing his case against US extradition, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told the Grayzone.
Assange, who received a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison in London after being found guilty of breaching the Bail Act in April, has been denied correspondence, granted only two social visits per month, and is generally being held under conditions of increased isolation, according to Hrafnsson.
Although the notorious Australian has served his sentence for breaching bail conditions and was supposed to be released on 22 September, he is to remain in prison due to District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s “substantial” belief that Assange could “abscond again” upon release. Hrafnsson argued that this reveals a “biased manner” of treatment of the WikiLeaks founder by the British system.
Assange, who still remains in the prison hospital due to his poor health condition, will now await February hearings over his extradition to the US, where he faces 18 charges, including disclosure of national secrets.
In 2010, the Australian editor and founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, obtained and published a series of US leaks provided by former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. The US government launched a criminal investigation against WikiLeaks and Assange on the basis of "unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence".
Assange had been sheltered in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 after an international arrest warrant was issued against him by Sweden based on allegations of sexual assault. In April 2019, he was handed over to British authorities by Ecuador, with Swedish prosecutors reopening the sexual offence investigation - charges which Assange has repeatedly denied.